My first job upon graduating law school in 1997 was as a full-time staff attorney for a Fayette County Circuit Court judge in Lexington, Kentucky. I earned $17,000 a year (!) and when I left that job in 1998 to enter private practice in Lexington, I knew every single person who worked in the courthouse, how the court conducted its business and most of the judges and attorneys in town. I felt like I had the world by the tail.
Against that backdrop, it was humbling to move to Charlotte in 2002. My first job here was as a contract paralegal while awaiting my North Carolina law license, earning a fraction of what I’d been making as an attorney. When I did obtain my North Carolina law license, I knew no one at the North Carolina courthouses (or anywhere else), and it seemed I could do nothing right. For example, how I wish I had kept the letter from the Mecklenburg County Clerk’s office, advising me that unless I joined the Mecklenburg County Bar ASAP, my brand-new law license would be suspended. In Kentucky, all local bars were voluntary, so I had made yet another error. I had yet to discover the Mecklenburg County Bar.